User Intent and SEO

Encora | May 18, 2021

Everyone’s talking about user intent lately, including Avantica. This is the third article in our series on user intent. In the past two articles, we’ve talked about user intent and UX, as well as user intent and content. In this article, we’ll tackle user intent coupled with UX and Content to see the effects on SEO. 

User Intent Basics

User intent is the reason behind the search on Google, Bing, or any other search engine. The concept of user intent acknowledges that a search doesn’t begin and end with the words typed into the search bar: there’s an intention that is developed far before the fingers hit the keypad. Behind typing in a phrase to initiate a search lies a desired outcome, a possible solution to a problem. 

Why Worry About User Intent? 

Understanding user intent makes a company or corporation think like the user or customer. What are they trying to do with this search? How can my business and products help? The first step is to understand why a search is made. The next step is to show the user that your business can solve the problem that precipitated the search. In order to do that, it helps to have an SEO strategy. Search engines have evolved and are now including user intent in how they rank sites and respond to searches. Bottom line: If your business wants to be seen, it must consider user intent. 

There’s a good video on youtube where Engineer Paul Haahr discusses how Google ranks sites. We’ll give just a brief overview of a few key points here on how SEO and user intent are working on one of the world’s largest search engines.

Dominant and Common Interpretations

These two interpretations help Google to determine what search results a user will see. Dominant interpretations are what most users mean when they type a query. Common interpretations have multiple possible meanings, such as the word apple meaning electronics or a fruit. In response, Google provides results that cover a variety of possible meanings.  

Do/ Know/ Go

Do Know Go is a theory that searches (i.e. user intent) can be divided into one of the aforementioned three categories. Google and other search engines can try to know which type of search a user is doing, and therefore will know what type of results to display to best help the user. 

Do queries are transactional. The user is looking to do something, to make a purchase. These are important to e-commerce websites. 

A know query is informational. Users are trying to learn something about a product, industry, place, etc. Know queries also encompass micro-moments which is when a user wants to check something for a quick update. An example would be, checking a bank account.

Go queries are location-based. A user is looking for a specific website or place to go. An example would be if a user were to type “Florence, Italy” into a search engine. 

User Intent, SEO, and UX

How do user intent, SEO and UX work together? In essence, both the user intent and the user experience design are working toward the same end goal: Solving the user’s problem or to put it another way, fulfilling his/her intention. But they have to make sure that they catch the attention of SEO crawlers. By detailing their UX to include a clear user journey path that considers a users intent, businesses make it easier to be discoverable by SEO, as well as to reach their clients and enable them to use their products.  

Good UX should have an easy-to-follow customer journey map, an intuitive layout, color palette, font, photos and payment system, which all align to help users fulfill their intentions easily and pleasurably. It’s a matter of knowing what a user is seeking when he or she types a phrase into a search engine. 

User Intent, SEO, and Content

How do user intent, SEO and content marketing work together? Both the SEO and the content marketing are working to connect a user with a brand that can help them solve their problems or fulfill their search intentions. But it’s important for the content marketer or copywriter to understand how SEO works and consider users’ intentions for a brand to be discoverable by search. Both SEO and Content Marketers are considering what the user is looking for in his or her searches and can function like a team to help connect users with the right businesses and products. 

UX + Content + SEO = Powerful Problem Solving

Like a big puzzle, once all the pieces come together they form a powerful alliance to help connect brands and products to consumers with the aim of fulfilling their intentions. To break it down more simply:

  • SEO- its goal is to help connect users with the right sites that fulfill his/her intent
  • UX- its goal is to provide users with seamless experiences that enable them to fulfill their intentions
  • Content- the job of content is to help users understand how a product or service can fulfill their intentions, and to help SEO crawlers find them so that they can alert users of the brands’ presence and intention fulfilling abilities. 

The group of individual concepts is working toward solving a user's problems and fulfilling his/her intent as easily and efficiently as possible. 


SEO is an ever-changing field that seeks to provide results that align with users’ intentions behind their searches. It’s vital for businesses to know how search engines provide results to users in order to be discoverable. Part of this process is providing websites and products that deliver excellent user experiences as well as adept content marketing that can assist SEO crawlers’ efforts. At the end of the day,  the efforts of SEO, UX, and content marketing aim to assist with the connection of users to the right and products and services that meet their needs.




  1. The User intent can be defined as the intention behind a query typed into a search engine. 
  2. Search engines have evolved and are now including user intent in how they rank sites and respond to searches. 
  3. To be easily discoverable, a business must understand its user’s intentions.
  4. Google has ways of categorizing intent that helps to filter what type of information will be shown in a response to a search.
  5. The user intent, the user experience design, and the content marketing aspects of a brand are working toward the same end goal: Solving the user’s problem or, to put it another way, fulfilling his/her intention. 
  6. When understood, SEO provides an additional tool to ensure that a brand can connect with users through its UX and Content.


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